North Star Camp for Boys

Friday, February 26, 2010

LA Reunion this Sunday


The Los Angeles Reunion is this weekend, Sunday 2/28.  Leb will be in LA and would love to see you all.  If you are interested in attending, and need the details, please Contact Us.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

NSC Alumni Around the Big 10

We were out on the road over the past few days looking for some great staff for the Summer of 2010, and we ran into some of North Star's finest at the University of Illinois, University of Indiana an Purdue University. At Illinois, we saw Spencer Schneider, Andy Stern, Jeff Glickman, Nicky Yohanna, Alex Jacobs, Brian Beck and Danny Gold. At Indiana we saw Jaime Billow, who is getting his MBA, and a Purdue we saw Josh Fried (pictured with Dan), who is studying mechanical engineering and in a co-op program through which he is working for GE. It was great seeing all of the alumni!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ACA 100th Anniversary

The American Camp Association is celebrating its 100th anniversary.  The ACA is the organization that accredits camps around the country to ensure that all camps are safe environments for kids.  As part of the celebration, the ACA has put together it's Anniversary Website, including this video.

Friday, February 19, 2010

ACA Conference Comes to an End

The last two days of the ACA conference were jam packed with lots of good stuff. Thursday started off with more breakout educational sessions. We get started bright and early every morning as the sessions start at 8am. Some of the sessions we all went to focused on things like bullying at camp, marketing strategies and camp operations. Leb, Sue, Andy and I spent time after the conference ended sharing some of the things that we learned at the different sessions.

One of the great parts of these conferences is that we have the opportunity to sit down and talk to other camp directors. Maybe its over a meal or after the conference has ended for the day. We get a chance to share ideas with other camps, see what they are doing, giving us ideas for new programs and other ways to make camp great. Yesterday we met some folks from The Tim Horton's Children's Foundation. Tim Horton's is a Canadian Coffee/Donut shop, with over 3500 locations (including a few hundred in the US). The company is heavily involved in the community and has an annual "camp day", where they raise a lot of money for their camp foundation.

We had two big keynote sessions over the last two days of the conference. During one of them, olympic gold medalist Kerri Strug talked a bit about the impact her time at camp had on her. The conference ended with a brunch and a keynote speech by Luis Benitez. Benitez has reached the summit of Everest six times, including one remarkable trip where he led an expedition with a blind climber. Benitez told us all of the expedition, being told so many times that his mission was not possible. During the expedition, during the most challenging times, he thought back to his times as a young kid at summer camp where he leared the to put one foot in front of the other when times were tough.

North Star Notes:

- Andy and I will be at the Uncle Dans in Highland Park, IL on Sunday (Feb 21st). All NSC campers, prospects and their families who stop in will recieve 10% off of their purchases. If you know of anyone who wants to learn more about camp, we'd be happy to talk to them and answer any questions that they have.

- We'll be staff recruiting next week. On Tuesday we'll be at the University of Illinois, Wednesday at Indiana University and Thursday at Purdue University. We'll post the specifics but let us know if you want to meet up and if you have any friends looking for camp jobs, have them come meet us,

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

ACA Conference - Days 1 and 2

We've been joined here in Denver by a lot of other camp people as the ACA conference has begun. While the AIC conference was just independent camps, the conference now includes all types of camps (YMCA, Scouts, agency). The conference was kicked off by an opening general session led by Mark Victor Hansen, author of the acclaimed "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books. His energetic session really got people going.

After his session and other proceedings, we had two "educational breakout sessions." Throughout the week we attend various sessions led by either camping professionals or people from other walks of life that work with camps. Some of the sessions that we went to over the last few days included ones on staff evaluation, improving camp programs, legal issues facing camps and parent communication. We also had the chance to meet up with the Wisconsin and Illinois Section of the ACA. This is just a chance to get together with camps in the two states and hear about whats going on in our area. We're lucky to have lots of great camp people in the area.

Wednesday was kicked off with another general session featuring speaker Mawi Asgedom ( Mawi was born into Ethiopia and had to flea to Sudan as a child. He and his family lived in a refugee camp before World Relief brought him and his family to the United States in 1983. Mawi and his family settled in Wheaton, IL, and he eventually went to Harvard, where he graduated with top honors and spoke at commencement. His story was inspirational and he even was able to tell us about the summer he spent directing a camp while he was still in college.

Day two ended with the opening of the exhibit hall. This is when vendors from all over the country set up booths to show off stuff for all the camps to (hopefully) buy. There were about 170 different companies selling. We got some great new ideas for new NSC logo gear. We'll get to make another trip through the hall tomorrow as we look for some fun new toys for camp. We finished up the day with a NSC dinner, being joined by Jeff, Kim and Lake McCormack.

North Star is well represented over the week as the list of current and former NSC people here include Leb, Sue, Andy, Jeff McCormack, along with former NSC folks Tommy Feldman, Gabe Chernov, Cliff Lissner, Mike Jay, Mike Cohen, Tom Adler, Steve Hitchens and Brad Holland. This group includes eight current or former camp directors in Leb, Sue, Tommy (Mountain Day Camp - CO), Gabe (Birch Trail), Mike Jay (Kamaji - MN), Mike Cohen (Timberlane), Cliff (Chippewa) and Tom (Chippewa).

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

AIC Conference

We all have arrived in Denver safely. Leb got here a few days ago for planning meetings in preparation. We all started this morning at 9am with the start of the Association of Independent Camps Conference. What exactly is the AIC and the ACA? Just under 3000 camps across the country are members of the ACA, the association that accredits camps, represents us nationally and provides resources to our industry. The AIC is an affiliated group of ACA and is comprised of for-profit and non-for-profit camps that are independent, meaning they’re not a part of any agency or larger group. So for two days before the start of the ACA conference a few hundred people are meeting to discuss issues specifically focused towards independent camps.

For our opening general session we had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Foster Cline, one of the founders of the Love and Logic Institute. Dr. Cline is a child psychologist who has written many books and has 35 years of experience working with families and children. Following the opening session we had a few small group break-out sessions. Some of these sessions included camp crisis management, internet staff training and online marketing tools.

Our evening was capped off at the AIC awards dinner. At the Awards Dinner Leb was recognized for his efforts with the AIC. Leb is the outgoing AIC President and has focused significant efforts for the last two years to provide additional resources for camps all over the country. While Leb will appreciate having a little more free time, it’s obvious that camp directors across the country will miss his leadership.

Today wrapped up the AIC conference. We spent the morning in a session with Fred Miller who is an executive consultant that works with organizations and companied across the world. His session focused on the current economy and how camps can continue to grow in the changing world. We’ll follow up with more info from the conference as the ACA conference gets under way.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Denver, Here we Come

You're probably used to Leb's Ramblings being exclusive to the summer, along with a few entries to help you prepare for camp. Along with our new website, we plan to make additional use out of this blog feature. So you can look forward to entries from time to time about the goings on in the North Star offices, our travels and any other updates.

The yearly American Camp Association National Conference is one of the things that we all look forward to in February and we're getting ready to head to Denver for the conference, which starts on Tuesday the 16th. There are actually a few conferences that take place during the week. On Sunday the Association of Independant Camps holds its conference, just ahead of the ACA gathering. As you may know, Leb is the current President of the AIC. There is also the Emerging Professionals In Camping, which Andy Shlensky is very involved in. Andy has helped bring about a first ever EPIC Conference, focused towards providing resources to younger camping professionals.

So what happens at these conferences? First off, they give us an opportunity to go to large and small group sessions that focus on different issues facing summer camps. We'll hear a few different keynote speakers and also go to educational sessions that help us stay current with the latest issues. The conference is also a great opportunity to get together with our friends from camps both from Wisconsin as well as across the country. It's a lot of fun to get together with camp people who we only get to see once a year. There is also a great big exhibit hall where vendors sell anything from swim docks to climbing gear, so we'll keep an eye out for some fun new camp toys.

There are a lot of things that happen over the course of the conference and we'll do our best to keep you all informed. Check back here for periodic updates over the week and we'll try to post updates on the sessions that we're going to and other fun news from Denver. We also are looking forward to seeing Jeff and Kim McCormack, as well as Brad Holland, who will be in attendance at the conference.